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Uneven Job Growth in U.S. Construction

Friday, August 28, 2015

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The U.S. construction industry appears caught between divergent economic trends that aid employment in some areas and hinder it in others, according to Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) data.

Construction employment expanded in 37 states and D.C. between July 2014 and July 2015 while only 28 states and D.C. added jobs during that time period, according to the AGC's recent analysis of Department of Labor data.

Uneven Growth Pattern

“Construction continues to grow overall but fewer states are participating in the expansion than was true a year ago,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist.

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Construction employment expanded in 37 states and D.C. between July 2014 and July 2015, the AGC reports, relying on Department of Labor figures.

“The uneven growth reflects the cross-cutting trends in the overall economy, as tight government budgets, plunging commodity prices and weak overseas demand lead to project cancellations in some states even while activity accelerates elsewhere.”

Growth States

California added more new construction jobs (48,900 jobs, 7.3 percent) between July 2014 and July 2015 than any other state, AGC reported.

Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months include Florida (26,500 jobs, 6.6 percent), Washington (15,300 jobs, 9.6 percent), Texas (14,400 jobs, 2.2 percent) and Michigan (12,400 jobs, 8.7 percent).

Arkansas (14.9 percent, 6,800 jobs) added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year, followed by Idaho (13.7 percent, 4,900 jobs), Nevada (10.7 percent, 6,800 jobs), Washington and Michigan, according to AGC.

Construction Job Declines

Thirteen states shed construction jobs during the past 12 months, up from only three with construction job decreases a year earlier. 

West Virginia (-16.0 percent, -5,400 jobs) lost the highest percent of construction jobs, the association reported. Other states that lost a high percentage of jobs for the year include Rhode Island (-7.9 percent, -1,300 jobs), Ohio (-7.0 percent, -13,800 jobs) and Mississippi (-4.3 percent, -2,100 jobs).


The AGC says contractors in growth areas are reporting a shortage of qualified workers.

The largest job losses occurred in Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana (-5,100 jobs, -4.1 percent) and Mississippi.

Construction employment was flat in Vermont, AGC said.

AGC reported the employment data by rank and state and provided a state employment map.
Focus on Education
Association officials said that contractors in parts of the country where construction demand is growing are reporting shortages of qualified workers to fill available positions.
Officials warn that as demand for construction picks up, those shortages will “only get more severe.”
“Education officials need to include high-paying jobs in construction among the career choices they encourage and help prepare students to pursue,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.
Established in 1918, AGC represents nearly 30,000 firms, including general contractors, specialty contractors and service providers and suppliers.


Tagged categories: Associated General Contractors (AGC); Construction; Economy; Jobs; North America; Program/Project Management; Trends; Workers

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